Another close call with dropped points against Crystal Palace. Liverpool were saved late in the match at Selhurst Park by another strike full of composure by Mohamed Salah. But for much of the match Salah and the entire team struggled to break down Palace while also managing to offer the Eagles all sorts of confidence in their own attacking moments. Wilfred Zaha went at Trent Alexander-Arnold for much of the first half. Andros Townsend was allowed time to create. If not for Christian Benteke sending a couple sitters safely out of bounds, Liverpool would have been in trouble.
Matches right after international breaks tend to be like this. Players look tired after traveling to far off places and return to training camp with limited time to prepare for the coming game. The performances often make for frustrating entertainment.
Jürgen Klopp acknowledged as much after the match when he was asked if the scrambles and stumbles on display against Palace are indicative of what supporters should expect when Liverpool play Manchester City at Anfield on Wednesday.
“In the moment, nobody should be worried about our mood,” said Klopp. “The boys are really on fire, I like that, but I know as a football professional you always have to deliver, deliver and deliver.
“We really took back [players] from completely different countries and time zones, then you have two days, or one-and-a-half, to be prepared.
“Then you saw physically we were not at our best today and you need all that you have to beat Crystal Palace. You have to fight. We fought and I am really happy about it.
“We didn’t play the best football we can play, no problem with that but it helps, especially in the Premier League.
Turning these potential disasters into narrow victories is something this Liverpool squad has been demonstrating more and more under Klopp. That mentality to keep going, regardless of the scoreline or the time remaining, has spread to the entire team now. Belief and that.
And nothing less than that full commitment will be required if Liverpool want to best City and advance to the Champions League semi-finals.
“It will still be very difficult against Manchester City,” added Klopp. “I don’t think it gives us a big advantage against them, but no problem with that.
“We will be excited about the opportunity to play City in a quarter-final early enough, but in the moment we are still enjoying this result.”